It is with sadness we record the passing of Sir Jack Leslie on 18 April 2016 at his home in Glaslough, Co Monaghan. The Society was delighted to receive Jack as our guest of honour at a World Wars Remembrance Event held in Parkanaur in November 2011.
The night was focused upon the personal reminiscences of family who’s loved ones had been involved in the two World Wars. It was a very powerful night charged with emotion, none more than when Jack got up to speak about his own experiences as a soldier and prisoner of war. As an audience we were aware of Jack’s age, then just weeks from his 95th birthday, and I suppose we felt we should be understanding of what could be reasonably expected from a man of such an age. However, as Jack stood at the lectern tall and determined the years seemed to slip away as he began to speak.
Jacks voice spoke eloquently, clearly and with such volume and authority that everyone in the room was gripped with what he had to say. He spoke of those moments in June 1940 leading up to his battalion’s surrender as they fought a desperate rear-guard action at Dunkirk. Jack’s job as an officer was to support his men in what I’m sure they realised was a doomed mission. Their job was to delay the advancing German Panzers long enough to allow tens of thousands of their comrades to escape from the beaches to their rear. Eventually the time came to surrender and Jack and his men prepared themselves to be taken captive.
As an audience we were all aware of the sense of history as Jack recounted the horrors of his experiences as he and his men where marched away from the front back east to where they would eventually be imprisoned; in Jacks case until 1945. His recollections where painted with such clarity it wasn’t hard to imagine what he described of the carnage of the roads leading away from Dunkirk as thousands of refugees mingled with advancing columns of German soldiers. Everywhere there was destruction. He recounted an episode where a shell landed near them on the road and when they came too all around where the dead and injured, many of them civilians.
Jack and his comrades would endure many hardships before he was released in 1945 but he retained an obvious love of life which we are all joyfully aware of. We owe so much to Jack and his generation, there determination and resilience but most especially their desire to survive the most appalling adversity. We will all remember grandparents and great grandparents like Jack who have sadly passed on but it is important that we do what we can to honour their memory and learn from their experiences in all aspects of our lives.
The Society was delighted to see a packed house for the talk entitled 'One Day in July' at the Killymaddy Centre on the evening of the 22 March 2015.
The talk was on the life and war career of 1st Ft Lt Fred A Barton USAAF who was tragically killed in an air crash in the townland of Eskragh on 1 July 1945. Among the audience where relatives of those who had witnessed the crash on that Sunday morning.
The Society was especially delighted to welcome Mr Douglas Condy (seen left with Jonathan Gray) who had himself witnessed the accident as a young man of 19.
The Society was delighted to host a talk called 'Once Upon A Time in Tyrone' by Marianne Crossle on Tuesday 23rd February 2016 at Killymaddy.
The talk was excellently attended with visitors from our friends in other local societies as well as from further afield.
After a brief background on the family's historic origins the audience was treated to vivid memoirs of times spent at Anahoe along with pictures of the family.
Marianne also treated the audience to excerpts from her father's memoirs with a particularly charming piece about a local cobbler.
We hope that she can visit again soon.
The Society is saddened to record the passing of William (Willy) Hurson on 10th December 2015.
Willy was a Committee and founding member of the Society and everyone would like to record there deepest sympathy to his wife Monica, their children Peter, Willie and Marie as well as the wider family circle.
Willy had a great love for his local area of Tullyallen and its history and we are indebted to him for the legacy of articles he has left us on his experiences growing up in Tullyallen.
The Society would like to acknowledge the support of the DOE Historic Monuments Division in thier consent to the displaying of three local artefacts at its premises at the Killymaddy Centre.
| The Fort Edward
Yeomanry Cavalry Button
The Killeeshil Cross Fragment was discovered by the late Rev Brett Ingam in 1975 on the boundary of nearby Killeeshil (St Pauls) Church of Ireland
The Glencull Cross Head was also discovered in 1975 embedded in the wall of a farm in the townland of Glencull. The Society would also like to ackknowledge the consent of Mr William Barbour to the removal of the artefact to Killymaddy.
The Fort Edward Yeomanry Cavalry Button was discovered in the Archaeological Excavations of Castle Caulfield by Archaeologists from Queens University, Belfast in 2011.